Monitoring Jaguars and Other Charismatic Species in Bolivia’s Alto Madidi

Alto Madidi – where the Andes meets the Amazon in Bolivia´s stunning Madidi National Park. Photo by Rob Wallace ©WCS

By Rob Wallace

[Note: this is the fourth in a series of reports from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) on the Identidad Madidi expedition currently taking place in Bolivia's Madidi National Park]

Alto Madidi, on the upper Madidi River where the Andean foothills flatten out onto to the Amazonian floodplain, is a magical place and the sixth site on our two-year altitudinal transect in Madidi National Park. Extraordinary biological diversity, remote wilderness, and abundant wildlife – much of which seems almost naïve to the presence of people – are an intoxicating combination for the team Identidad Madidi.

Alto Madidi – where the Andes meets the Amazon in Bolivia´s stunning Madidi National Park. Photo by Rob Wallace ©WCS

The Madidi protected area takes its name from this river, though the river itself is named after the Tacana indigenous word for an ant species found on its sandy beaches.

For most of the team our visit to Alto Madidi is a first. Not so for Bolivian wildlife biologists Guido Ayala and Maria Viscarra, two of my colleagues from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society). Guido and Maria have spent the last 15 years generating knowledge about, and then monitoring populations of, charismatic wildlife species in the jungles of Madidi and beyond.

Their endeavor and commitment has resulted in an almost unique long-term dataset at several sites, including Alto Madidi, on species such as black spider monkeys (Ateles chamek), lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris), collared and white-lipped peccaries (Pecari tajacu and Tayassu pecari), giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis), and ocelots (Leopardus pardalis). But for Guido and Maria it’s all about the jaguars (Panthera onca).

Guido Ayala and Maria Viscarra set camera traps to monitor jaguar populations on the beaches of the Madidi River. Photo by Rob Wallace ©WCS.

“Jaguars need huge areas to thrive, both individually and – especially – —> Read More

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